by JULIE-ANN SPENCE
Developer Ken Cleland, Lisburn Deputy Mayor Brian Heading, Tourist Board Chairman Howard Hastings and Jonathan Craig MLA reviewing plans for the new hotel in Lisburn. US4510.530cd
THE developers behind a new hotel in the city are taking to the streets
to seek the support of the people of Lisburn for the scheme. Plans for a 100
bedroom four star hotel on the Hillsborough Road have been re-submitted
after being rejected over a year ago and developer Ken Cleland is hoping
this time the local community will support the development.
Hotel developers seek support from Lisburn
Mr. Cleland also revealed that two international hoteliers have expressed an interest in running the hotel if planning approval is granted.
Our planning application is for a four star hotel with conference and events facilities," explained Mr Cleland.
"Lisburn has a population of over 114,000 and 3,915 registered businesses and yet has only one three star hotel within walking distance of the city centre.
The three star Premier Inn, which opened last year, is reporting extremely high levels of occupancy confirming that additional hotel facilities are required for this growing city. Rather than being in competition the two hotels will complement each other."
The new hotel, which would take inspiration for its design from Lisburn Civic Centre, will include a health suite with swimming pool, Jacuzzi and steam room, as well as a fine dining and separate bistro restaurant. Mr. Cleland also categorically stated that there will be no nightclub at the complex.
As part of the scheme much of the mature parkland surrounding the hotel will be retained and the riverside walkway within the site will be opened up to the public, with facilities being provided to enable disabled access.
"Currently access in the vicinity to the walkway is by a set of steep steps, which restricts access to a large section of the community," explained Mr. Cleland. "The proposed scheme includes parking and toilet facilities within the site allowing wheelchair users and families with prams access by a pathway to the riverside."
Monica Wilson, Chief Executive at Disability Action has welcomed the inclusion of this aspect of the scheme and said: "Access is a key issue for people with disabilities and we welcome the commitment of the developers to ensuring that disabled people will be able to access all of the facilities within the scheme.
"We would encourage all developers to consider best practice in relation to access and not just minimum requirements so that disabled people can access facilities in the same way as everyone else."
The development, if it gets the go ahead, will provide hundreds of new jobs for the local community, Mr. Cleland said.
"There will be up to 300 much needed construction jobs and 200 permanent
full and part time jobs, as well as benefiting local suppliers of goods and
services," he continued- Unemployment in Lisburn is currently in excess of
3,000 and at this time of deepening recession every effort must be made to
create new opportunities for employment." Local politicians have welcomed
Lisburn's Deputy Mayor, Councilor Brian Heading, who viewed the plans for the site this week, said there was a clear need for more hotels in the city.
"Lisburn City Council has been actively seeking the development of hotels in the city for a number of years and having recently welcomed one new hotel continues to believe that the City has the capacity for several full service hotels" he said. "A broader offer of accommodation and services would add greatly to the City's tourism product."
The developers have already received letters of support from local residents and businesses but they are hoping even more people will show their support in the coming weeks.
"We have already received hundreds of letters of support from the people of Lisburn and from over 100 local businesses, which is very encouraging," said Mr. Cleland- "However, we are keen to ensure that the Planning Service is left in no doubt that the people of Lisburn want this additional facility."